Nice Matin is daily newspaper here, which Joel has been referring to as Nice Menteur (‘liar’) for years. It is relentlessly local. Virtually whatever it reports relates to Azureens (people from the Cote d’Azur). To give you an idea, when the Nice football team, the Aiglons, lost (lost!) 2-0 to Lille (or maybe it was Marseille, do I care?), Nice Matin put it on the front page and then continued the coverage for NINE consecutive pages.
The reporters obviously don’t care much about the facts. This morning’s paper reported a theft at a restaurant in Liberation. (Are you guessing where this is going?) Well! Yes, it was a man, they got that right. Then it said he robbed the cash drawer – nope, he stuck his hand in the pocket of Michele’s jacket. It was about 9.30am when they were getting ready. Joel challenged him, but he opened his bag and showed him nothing, so Joel let him pass. He was very suspicious, though, and when Michele said she’d had the weekend’s takings in an envelope, he ran out of the restaurant to see where they guy was. The thief was running, and several of the market stallholders pointed him out. Nice Matin says that at this point several police officers from the brigade at the HQ next door happened to be coming out. Ha! Actually, Joel chased the guy, saw him getting on a bus and banged on the bus door as it passed shouting ‘Thief!’ Meanwhile someone went to get a policeman and one older officer looking sheepish came out. From reading the paper, you’d think a troop of police swooped, guns brandished.
The bus driver opened the door, and when the guy saw Joel, he begged him not to press charges, threw the money on the bus floor and ran. Meanwhile, Yen the barman was hotfooting it towards the bus, along with several stallholders. They chased the thief – the old policeman couldn’t keep up – and wrestled him to the ground. Someone might have even aimed a blow, but he missed. Joel had hold of his leg, other people his arms… when the policeman finally arrived, all he had to do was put on the handcuffs and wait for his mates.
What’s interesting is that Nice Matin knew exactly how much cash was in the envelope, though they also said he got two mobiles (only Michele’s pink one). Someone’s told them the story, but why bother with the facts?
Another thing that’s hilarious is that the regulars who popped in for an aperitif had already heard the story (and variations thereof). One of them even said he heard that Joel had thrown himself on the front of the bus to stop it. I can’t even type that without laughing out loud.